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I’d like to recommend this church to you….. May 29, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Art and Architecture, disaster, error, Eucharist, General Catholic, Liturgy, priests, Sacraments, sadness, scandals.
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….but I can’t, unfortunately.

We were in the Hill Country this weekend, as I’ve alluded to in other posts.  We used to assist at Mass at a parish in Harper, but the elder liberals in the congregation there ran off the orthodox religious priest and now the parish only has a part-time fill-in priest, leaving the lay people free to do as they wish.  So, we assisted at a parish we’ve never been to before, St. Stanislaus in Bandera. We knew it was Novus Ordo going in, but other than that didn’t know much, other than that the church was supposed to be beautiful.  It is.  See photos below.

In addition, for Novus Ordo,the Mass was rather reverent.  The priest used the table altar, but with the Benedictine arrangement of Crucifix and candles on the altar.  Part of the Mass was sung, and his sermon was short but straightforward and orthodox, if not terribly edifying.  No altar girls, and the Blessed Sacrament was distributed only under one kind by the priest and one other gentleman.  The deacon I believe is usually the other distributor of the Blessed Sacrament, but he appeared to be in ill-health and unable to assist.  I would have preferred that the priest alone do so, but under the circumstances and relatively speaking, it wasn’t too bad.  There were a number of good things going on at this parish.  But what happened at the conclusion of Mass (before the dismissal), was bad, very, very bad.

It seems that this weekend was the graduation for Bandera High School.  Seven young people from the parish graduated.  So, they called their names and they walked up into the sanctuary to loud applaus.  Then, each one was given a bible and crucifix – more applause.  Then scholarships – more applause.  Then certificates of some kind – yet more applause.  There were four rounds of applause in total, before the end of Mass proper.  I was reminded of what Pope Benedict had to say regarding applause during Mass:

I don’t know that the “essence of liturgy” has totally disappeared from this particular parish, but it was annoying, distracting, worldly-focused and sad.  I’d love to recommend this parish, but this applause makes it difficult to do so.

My wife and daughters were wearing veils, as usual.  We were approached twice after Mass – once by a man saying he admired our family, and another by a lay woman asking if we were “Byzantine Catholics.”  Because of the veils.  I turned around and said far too loudly and somewhat jokingly – no, we’re traddies, with a big, impish grin on my face! 

She had no idea what I meant.  It is a very attractive and even Catholic parish, for today’s age.  The Mass was pretty reverent – more so than 90% of parishes, at least.  But the applause was just a killer.

 

 

Too Catholic for my own good? May 29, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, blogfoolery, Dallas Diocese, disaster, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, sadness, scandals, Society.
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I think I got some gentle criticism this weekend while visiting my wife’s family.  It was pointedly noted that, as a recovering addict, I surely have trouble with moderation (true) and that I have a tendency to go to extremes (not as sure about that).  It was also noted that I may have a propensity to go “down the wrong path” in the Faith (this wrong path was not really explained), and……not sure what the remedy for that was, other than being careful not to do so, I suppose.  Humility and obedience, surely.  Which I desperately need more of, in great quantities.

I was thinking about that conversation when I came across a post by a certain very well known Catholic blogger, who I generally avoid like the plague, wherein he explained, in his usual highly evasive and reserved way (!!), that “NFP zealouts” need to shut the hell up and get out of other people’s lives.  Essentially.

At issue was a letter ostensibly sent to this well known blogger that bemoaned – at length and with great gusto – those surely traddy type Catholics who look down their noses on all others who do not have at least 10 kids.   Knowing a fair number of the type alluded to, I’m not at all certain that is the case, but, fight through that for now.  I won’t quote the letter, for it was all straw men and special pleading – what is more to my interest is the blogger’s reply, part of which I excerpt below (no return link being my policy with certain overly aggressive Catholic bloggers, you’ll just have to trust me):

[With regard to the conditions under which a couple should or can use NFP…..] The simple fact is that the Church asks of the faithful that they be open to life by not practicing artificial contraception.  Period.  If you are looking for a place to stand, stand on that.  All the guilt-mongering spiritual comparisons inflicted on those with small families by the Elite [please……you make your living off of telling other Catholics what to think, tossing the “elite” epithet is disingenuous at best] is just the sin of judgmentalism. [???] Those people are not your judge, God is.  If you are doing the Church asks, you are doing what God asks.[I can think of a dozen odd priests, bishops, and theologians who would take great exception with Shea’s definition of what he claims the Church commands, just off the top of my head]

A good habit for the faithful Catholic to cultivate when he is besieged by this sort of judgmental comparison-making is to learn the distinction between real scandal (i.e. tempting somebody to violate their conscience) and mere offended censoriousness. [Is scandal really the issue here?]  When somebody decides to be more holy than the Church, they are welcome to impose such things on themselves.  But they have no right to impose them on you and you have no obligation to feel like a bad Catholic if you are doing what Holy Church asks.

Really.  Reeeaaaally?  I guess this guy would be there to defend Cain when he claimed he was not his brother’s keeper.  And these statements seem to ignore Jesus’ Gospel command that if one finds a brother in error, they  should go and try to admonish that brother.  None of that for Pope S–a. 

These paragraphs are so wrong as to be frightening, scandalous, even.  The Church does indeed care a great deal more than simply that a (married?) couple not use contraception.  The procreative end of marriage is the primary end.  That is, it is the prime purpose of marriage.  Anything – anything! – the defeats that prime purpose is problematic.  Now, the problematic can be acceptable in certain limited extenuating circumstances, but using any means to defeat the body’s natural capability to procreate is, at best, something the Church tolerates, but does not endorse wholeheartedly.  Thus, there are many in the Church – a growing number, in fact, who have grave reservations about the way in which NFP is both presented and used in many quarters.  This reservation is not morally censorious. It is in fact a charitable concern for our neighbor, a concern based far more on the eternal repercussions of abuse of NFP (if abuse occurs), than in the well known blogger’s worldly reply.

The blogger/radio personality appears to take his correspondent at face value, but I would have felt strong reservations taking this person’s side (which he did), given how stridently, vociferously, and salaciously they ripped into these alleged anti-NFP zealouts.  When reading this letter, I got the sense that the person’s conscience was piqued – alot – and that they were casting about for some kind of affirmation of the choices they’d made.

None of this is to say that we should go out hunting for couples with a few or no children and start to pry into their personal lives.  To do so could be extremely hurtful to a couple who had, perhaps, desperately wanted children throughout their marriage but been unable to conceive.  But in today’s environment, when so many share so much with total strangers on the net, it becomes a general topic of conversation.  This is not the witch hunt the blogger describes in his usual straw man, shroud waving way.  It’s a response to what many see as an ongoing and widespread pattern of abuse of NFP, and even more so, the way NFP is presented in many quarters in the Church as a lifelong alternative to birth control, where couples – for any reason whatsoever, whether ‘serious’ or ‘grave’ or flippant – are advised to use NFP in the exact manner in which they would have used artificial contraception. 

But, if we happen to come into knowledge that someone is using NFP in a disordered way, it is our duty as Catholics to approach the person in great charity and tenderness and to try to explain the proper understanding of the ends of marriage and openness to procreation, not to make ourselves feel superior, but to help that couple avoid/eliminate a very grave sin.  I think the fear many have is that couples are being led down the primrose path by possibly well-intentioned folks in the Church who have a disordered understanding of the use of NFP.

The way this well known blogger frames and executes his argument is disturbing.  He starts by making an extremely doubtful assertion, regarding what the Church believes (the only concern is not using contraception), and then proceeds to condemn as judgmental sinners any who would disagree with his false view.  He does this with such grim regularity that one has to wonder just what the motivation would be. 

Congratulations to SpaceX! May 29, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, fun, Society.
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I did learn while I was away that Dragon successfully berthed to the nadir port of the Harmony node of the ISS.  Very, very cool.  And an amazing achievement for a private company which developed its own engines, launch vehicle, and spacecraft. Now, let’s get it developed to carry crew and get back to exploring space.

Sadly, NASA really has perfected the art of making virtually anything seem boring.

Our new doctors May 29, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, General Catholic, Glory, religious, Saints, Tradition, Virtue.
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One I’m very interested in.  The other I don’t know much about, except she has been transmogrified into a scion of feminism, which I am certain is entirely unfair and unfounded.  Anyways, here they are:

Bishop Blaire and the contraception mandate May 29, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, persecution, sadness, scandals, Society.
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Late last week – too late for me to catch, as I was out Friday and away from the internet for several days – Bishop Stephen Blaire, the very loquacious chair of the USCCB’s committee on Justice and Peace, expressed doubts regarding the bishop’s approach on the contraception mandate.  This is the man who seems to constantly and reflexively oppose any proposals to reduce social welfare expenditures (indeed, he demands their constant increase) in spite of the doom of debt this country is accumulating, and who frequently seems to find an apologia for the actions of the democrat party and the Obama administration.  He was quoted as saying this:

“I do think there are probably some different concerns with how it is being done,” said Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, who recalled Catholic Charities of Sacramento’s unsuccessful legal challenge to a similar state mandate.

Bishop Blaire added that “there is a concern among some bishops that there ought to have been more of a wider consultation” on the USCCB’s response to the mandate. [Ah, yes, “dialogue,” where we can talk forever and nothing ever gets done. Is that what is intended here?]

“The question is what is our focus as bishops and that we have opportunity to clarify our focus and that we are all in agreement on focus,” Bishop Blaire continued. “I think there are different groups that are trying to co-opt this and make it into political issue, and that’s why we need to have a deeper discussion as bishops.” [Hmmm….this does sound less like questioning, and more like opposition to the lawsuits against the HHS Mandate]

Bishop Blaire “worried that some groups ‘very far to the right’ [please……..] are trying to use the conflict as ‘an anti-Obama campaign,’” [You’re right, we are, and rightly so.  And what about your dozens of statements which, amazingly!!, always seem to support the position of the Obama administration?  Do you ever “worry” that leftists will use your statements as part of a pro-Obama campaign?] eported Kevin Clarke, associate editor of America Magazine [Yes……very much like opposition to the direction taken]

I actually agree with Bishop Blaire, I do think the bishops have failed to take advantage of this golden opportunity to discuss the issue of contraception and the intrinsic evil thereof, in an attempt to rectify the horrific catechesis which has completely ignored the issue (when it wasn’t apostasizing) over the past 44 years.  But, I don’t think that’s what Blaire means. He means that he wishes the USCCB had wrung their hands and talked and talked and talked until the mandate was set in law, the Church was paying for contraception, it was a done deal, and ‘oh my we’re so disappointed this happened but what can we possibly do now?  It’s “settled law”.’

However, Bishop Blaire apparently found it necessary to backtrack – somewhat – over the weekend:

“I do think there are probably some different concerns with how it is being done,” he had said. “There is a concern among some bishops that there ought to have been more of a wider consultation.” [What…..over 4o different organizations are suing on this issue, including a large number of dioceses, and yet, there was narrow consultation? I find this hard to believe, except as an attempt to forestall action by talking forever]

“I stand solidly with my brother bishops in our common resolve to overturn the unacceptable intrusion of government into the life of the Church by the HHS Mandate,” Bishop Blaire said in his clarification. “In March, the Administrative Committee issued a statement of commitment to persuade the Administration to eliminate this interference, the Congress to overturn it or the courts to stop it. I contributed to and voted for this statement, and continue to support it, including its call for legal action as was announced on Monday.”……

….I am convinced we need to continue to seek to persuade others to join us in this just cause through reasoned, civil and respectful discussion. Our defense of religious liberty is advanced when there is open discussion about the best strategies to promote our common goal. [So, the implication is that discussion was not “open,” in some manner.  I’m not sure how much more open the discussion could be, it’s been a headline item and has dominated conversation for months]

I look forward to the discussions at the Bishops’ meeting in June which will offer us an opportunity to agree on next steps to achieve our common and essential goal of ending this violation of religious freedom.

This notion of a narrow discussion, and his references to his belief that “different groups” are attempting to somehow make a political issue of this are troubling.  This is a political issue.  This is a politician acting far, far outside his boundaries (constitutional, or with respect to the rights of the Church) – how is this not to be a political issue?  This is really an issue of Church persecution, which  under this administration has reached epidemic proportions.  Bishop Blaire may not like that fact, he may wish it weren’t so, but pretending that sufficient consultations weren’t made, or that it is wrong to “politicize” this issue, simply doesn’t make sense.   The Church has no choice but to defend its rights, and the bishops have chosen what may be the most effective means – legal action.  I may wish they would take this persecution as an opportunity to catechize on the intrinsic evil of contraception, but I don’t deny that, from a practical standpoint, doing so may undermine their efforts to oppose this persecution.  What Bishop Blaire wants seems something very different – he doesn’t make it clear, but the implication is the eternal discussion, obfuscation, and hand-wringing impotence that characterized the Church’s response to similar debacles in the period 1970 – present

I am very glad for the sea change in the mode and tenor of the response.  It may not be ideal to me, but it’s way better than what Bishop Blaire seems to be promoting.   

I note in passing that Bishop Blaire is a protege of Cardinal Mahoney.

Church Wreckovation, Mk. MCCXXVII May 29, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Art and Architecture, Basics, disaster, error, foolishness, General Catholic, religious, sadness, scandals.
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Or somesuch.  My wife grew up outside a little town west of San Antonio called Castroville.  Castroville was named after Henri Castro, an empresario from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France that brought a few hundred colonists over to the area west of San Antonio in the 1840s.  They were amazingly productive people, who dammed the Medina River and built a very extensive irrigation system from that impoundment, making the Medina Valley a very fertile agricultural area.  They were also very Catholic.  As so many European Catholic settlers to America did at the time, the first thing they did was build a church.  Literally,  many of these communities founded in central Texas by European settlers built churches before they built their own houses or even defensive works.  It was and is an amazing testament to their faith and the dominant role it played in their lives.

Often times, the first church built would be very small and simple.  As the community grew and prospered, the original basic church would be replaced by an improved one.  This happened in Castroville.   In fact, they built 3 churches, with the last and current church being completed in 1870.  The tiny original church still stands.

The reason I bring up this history is that I happened to come by a book published around the 125th anniversary of the parish in the mid 70s.  The book showed the “renovation” that had been done to the church in the wake of Vatican II in the early 70s.  Here is a photo from the book showing how the church looked prior to the wreckovation:

It’s an amazingly beautiful church.  A testament to the love and faith of those, not wealthy at all, farmers and ranchers who built it.  My wife has a brother in law who remembers the church as it is shown above, and he was furious when, in the early 70s, all the beautiful paint work on the columns, walls, and ceilings was painted over in bland, “modern,” white:

Actually, as church wreckovations went at that time, this one was pretty mild.  Still, there is a palpable loss in the removal of the altar rail and the painting over of the extensive and beautiful paintwork that previously adorned so much of the church.  The sanctuary was also extended some way into the nave in order to accomodate the new table type altar.  Later, the sanctuary was extended even further into the nave, and the altar moved further towards the people, so that now it is difficult to tell the difference between these two very distinct parts of the church.  I have seen this personally, and while the photo below doesn’t reveal great detail it does reflect pretty well how the church looks now:

The exterior has not changed:

I should add now that, as Catholic churches go in this day and age, St. Louis is not bad – it’s actually better at conveying the Catholic Faith and the ends of the Mass better than the vast majority of parishes built in the last 50 years or so.  But, in the modernizing renovation of the early 70s, there was a palpable loss of the sacred and a shift towards a more anthropomorphic view of ‘faith.’  This was exacerbated when the sanctuary and altar were moved further out into the nave, seeming to highlight the human aspects of the Mass and further confusing the differing roles of priest and laity, and the true Actor of the Mass and those who are blessed to witness the great act of salvation. 

An even more tragic tale is that of the Sisters of Divine Providence.  They once operated a huge convent in Castroville with hundreds of sisters, wearing very elaborate habits and teaching kids in Castroville and around the state.  But, in the wake of Vatican II and the general insanity that gripped so many religious orders in the 60s, they moved out of the convent and into San Antonio and have since become heavily involved with social justice work of the ACORN, Alinsky-ite variety.  They are still a quite numerous order but the vast majority are very, very old. There are only about 10 or 12 of the 200 odd sisters still left that are under 60.  Within 10-15 years, this order which nunbered as many as 400 50 years ago will have less than 30 sisters left.

Thus, wreckovation.